Glockenspiel Facts

Glockenspiel Facts
The glockenspiel is a percussion instrument similar to the xylophone but with metal plates or tubes instead of wood. In medieval times the glockenspiel was a musical instrument made of bells, and it wasn't until the 1700s that it was fitted with a keyboard and the bells were changed to bars similar to the metallophone used in Asia for over 1000 years. The first glockenspiel piece composed for an orchestra was completed in the 1700s by Georg Friedrich Handel. Further changes were made to the instrument in the 1800s and by the 20th century the glockenspiel played with a wooden mallet had become most popular.
Interesting Glockenspiel Facts:
In German the word 'glockenspiel' means 'to play the bells'.
Most percussion instruments do not produce a pitch when struck like the glockenspiel does, making it a unique percussion instrument.
In Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's 1791 composition The Magic Flute, the glockenspiel is used for the bird catcher's character. Other famous composers that featured the glockenspiel include Orff, Wagner, and Debussy.
The glockenspiel sounds like bells, and the most common glockenspiel used today is played with either wood or plastic mallets.
The glockenspiel looks like a smaller version of a xylophone but it has steel bars.
In compositions or scores the glockenspiel is often referred to as 'campanelli' which is an Italian term meaning 'bell'.
A glockenspiel can usually only reach up to three and a half octaves but most only extend to three.
Glockenspiels have been popular musical instruments for centuries in classical music but they are also popular in modern music styles as well. They can be heard in jazz and hip hop, rock, folk, and almost every other genre.
A recent song that featured the glockenspiel is "Nightmare" by Avenged Sevenfold.
Musicians and bands such as Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Radiohead, Jethro Tull, Rush, and Panic at the Disco have all used the glockenspiel in some of their most famous songs.
Marching bands in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. use a type of glockenspiel called the bell lyre, lyra, or lyra glockenspiel. This instrument is played upright, hung by a strap over of the musician's shoulder, and hit with a beater or mallet.
The military version of the glockenspiel used in marching bands is called the Stahlspiel or the Militar Glockenspiel.
Some musicians use two mallets in each hand, four in total, to play the glockenspiel.
Adding a keyboard to the horizontal glockenspiel makes it possible to play chords.
Striking the metal bar with a hard mallet creates a sharp, bright sound but when a softer mallet is used it sounds more muted.
Longer bars on the glockenspiel will create a lower note and shorter bars result in higher notes.
Bars on the glockenspiel are arranged from largest to smallest on a keyboard like base but it has two rows of metal bars.
When the glockenspiel was created it was considered to be only a substitute for real bells but as time progressed it became its own instrument and not just a replacement.


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